We don’t know honestly. We ride Shanghai’s metro every day and have only used Beijing’s a couple times back in 2004. Still, seeing Beijing ranked No. 9 (and Shanghai unranked) in this list of the top 11 underground transit systems in the world surprised us a bit — because all the China subway hype we hear is about Shanghai’s fast-growing system (or maybe that’s just because we live in Shanghai?). Here’s what the list, from Virgin Vacations, said about Beijing’s system (which ranked one spot ahead of Hong Kong’s):
The Beijing Subway is a relatively new subway system that opened in 1969 and serves Beijing and the surrounding suburbs. It is currently being expanded upon in a 7.69 billion USD (63.8 billion yuan) project to prepare for the 2008 Olympic Games. The expansion project is expected to bring the current length of the subway station from approximately 71 miles to nearly 300 miles.
Highlights: Fairly easy subway to navigate (especially if you’re a foreigner). Cheap fare (3 yen for most trips). Interesting architecture on the newer subway lines. A very ambitious expansion project is in the works.
OK, aside from the obvious oddities of that write-up (the subway is somehow easier to use for foreigners? they take Japanese currency?) it seems the main reason Beijing makes the list is because of its plans for future growth. But if we’re not mistaken, Shanghai’s is the longest China metro system now … and in the future — it’s supposed to be the third longest system in the world by the time the 2010 World Expo arrives.
Maybe we’re missing something — or maybe Virgin is just trying to sell tickets to Beijing for the Olympics. Anyway, you should check out the list. Lots of cool videos and photos, and now we really want to visit Moscow for some reason. Here’s the top 11, in abbreviated form:
1. London, England
2. Paris, France
3. Moscow, Russia
4. Madrid, Spain
5. Tokyo, Japan
6. Seoul, Korea
7. New York City, USA
8. Montreal, Canada
9. Beijing, China
10. Hong Kong
11. Sao Paulo, Brazil
The Virgin list has been “dugg” nearly 600 times over at DIGG.com. There are more than 100 comments on that page. Also at DIGG, we found this very helpful site with subway maps from all over the world.
Photo of Beijing Subway by jiankun.